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Will give priority to superspreaders, says Mamata government as lack of vaccines delay inoculation drive in Bengal

The state had identified bus conductors, drivers, hawkers and vegetable vendors as 'superspreaders', and said focus would be to inoculate them, their family members and close relatives.

Published: 21st June 2021 07:38 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st June 2021 07:38 PM   |  A+A-

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee addresses a press conference in Kolkata, Monday, June 21, 2021. (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

KOLKATA: The West Bengal government could not start its universal vaccination programme - aimed at inoculating people in the 18-45 age group free of cost - due to paucity of jabs, a senior health department official said.

The state will continue to give priority to the groups it has identified as "superspreaders" and increase the number of daily vaccination depending on supply, he said.

"We were unable to launch the universal vaccination programme from today because of shortage of vaccines. The ongoing vaccination process will continue. Our first target is to cover the priority groups," the official said.

The West Bengal government had identified bus conductors, drivers, hawkers and vegetable vendors as "superspreaders", and said focus would be to inoculate them, their family members and close relatives.

"We will take stock of the supply and decide upon the future course of action. At present, we can vaccinate close to three lakh people per day, but have the capacity to augment it to five lakh daily shots," the official added.

The central government on Monday kickstarted the universal vaccination programme to supply states free vaccines for the 18-45 age category.

Till Sunday, around 1.9 crore people had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in West Bengal, according to official data.

Out of this number, 42,74,276 beneficiaries have been fully inoculated with two doses.

Meanwhile, more than 2.98 crore Covid vaccine doses are still available with states and union territories, the Union health ministry said on Monday.

So far, 29,35,04,820 vaccine doses have been provided to states and union territories (UTs) through the Centre's free of cost channel and the direct state procurement category, it said.

Of this, the total consumption, including wastage, is 26,36,26,884 doses, according to data available at 8 am on Monday, the ministry said.

"A total 2,98,77,936 COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs to be administered," the ministry said.

It said that as part of the nationwide vaccination drive, the central government has been supporting states and UTs by providing them Covid vaccines free of cost.

In addition, the Centre has also been facilitating direct procurement of vaccines by the states and UTs, the ministry said.

Vaccination is an integral pillar of the comprehensive strategy for containment and management of the pandemic, along with 'test, track, treat' and Covid appropriate behaviour, it said.

Implementation of the liberalized and accelerated phase-3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination started from May 1 and under it, every month, 50 per cent of the total Central Drugs Laboratory cleared vaccine doses of any manufacturer would be procured by the Centre, the ministry said.

It would continue to make these doses available to state governments free of cost as was being done earlier, it said.



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